The patients groaned and reached out to Philip Fraser for help. He no longer cared. He had become a mindless automaton, patching, cutting, injecting, and healing as necessary. The blood, guts, and gore which surrounded him constantly had become just another part of the scenery of his life. It no longer mattered to him.
The man who had been shell shocked and shot himself in the arm for medical leave that lay in the back of the hospital no longer excited sympathy, pity, or contempt from the Canadian physician. Here lay the victims of AS guns, people torn to shreds by trigger-happy Americans. There lay the men who had managed to dive from a sinking ship and had grown sick from the putrescent American waters. On the other side were the knife victims, their garments soaked in blood.
The blackened and charred victims of American flamethrowers who begged for water, even a tiny amount, no longer stirred the fire of Fraser's soul. The American P.O.W.s, brutally handled by his countrymen and in need of medical attention for their broken bones no longer captured Fraser's sorrow.
There lay what was left of a grenade victim. Victims of artillery fire lay looking like ghouls with great chunks of flesh blown from their bodies. Then there were the altogether more disturbing wounded.
The patient he was currently working on was muttering deliriously. He was losing a lot of blood. His whole stomach was caked with the red goo, and it was hiding the wound.
"Damn it," Fraser said.
He scrubbed vigorously at the still drying blood. It was coming off to reveal flesh, but the woud was still nowhere to be found. He rubbed and rubbed at it, desperately trying to find it.
"Dr. Fraser?" came a voice through the haze.
Fraser stopped scrubbing in the little artificial cloud he had created in his mind.
"Yes?" he asked.
A man was walking through the door. It was a lieutenant. Fraser could tell from the man's voice that he was French Canadian. The officer saluted and Fraser returned it.
"Hand me those badages," Fraser commaded as the lieutenant came to the bedside.
The lieutenant obliged and Fraser began to dress the wound, which he had finally uncovered.
"Sorry about that. Can I do something for you?" asked the Canadian doctor.
The lieutenant was smiling.
"Actually, doctor, I'm here to do something for you. I've got your discharge papers."
"Discharge? What? Why? What about my patients?"
"Well, in regards to your patients, they'll be sent to a hospital for proper recovery, not just patching up. Your American patients will be returned to America. As for the reason why, it's because the war is over for us."
"What?" asked Fraser, starkly astonished.
"You honestly haven't heard?"
"I...I sort of work myself into a bubble when I'm treating patients. I don't think I've heard news from the outside world in...months."
"Well, the Americans have taken Mexico City and captured Almacen. It was a brutal battle. They fought for nearly two months, mostly hand-to-hand in the streets. Without Almacen the Mexican army just surrendered. All the land they took in the Antilles and Cuba and Belize has been returned to it's rightful owners. Canada can't fight the full force of the American army. We've always depended on Mexico taking on at least half of their forces. So, we negotiated our own peace with America. All the soldiers at the front are being discharged. I guess your turn is up."
Fraser was truly awestruck. He looked around himself at the dead and the dying.
"They'll all be taken care of, you say?"
"The best care of. They're our valiant fighting men."
Fraser wiped the blood off his hands onto his coat. He knew that he could finally leave this part of his life behind. He knew that without having to face a hundred dying troops every day, he could finally be free to feel things again. Sympathy, happiness. Maybe someday even love.
He walked out of the tent where the wounded troops were. They were someone else's problem now. It was dark out and nearing dawn. He suddenly broke down and cried. The emotions he had suppressed for so long came welling to the surface. The tears that were streaming from his eyes were the expression of everything he had been afraid to express over all this time. The sun began to rise, and bring to light a bright, new day.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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